Try this quick quiz: what’s the most useful tool for cars ever invented?
No, it’s not the DEWALT 204-Piece Mechanics Tools Kit and Socket Set with the knurled beauty rings that provide a non-slip gripping surface or the automotive stethoscope or the Trade Map Swirl Flame Torch Kit which is super for loosening rusted nuts and bolts and brazing copper pipes (I also use it for caramelising sugar on top of a Crème Brulee, or lightly toasting meringues, as in Bombe Alaska or raspberry meringue pie) or the StyleMbro one-piece Car Anti-Static Rubber Strap Eliminator Grounding Safe that eliminates static electricity to prevent spontaneous combustion (ie: to help stop your ride spontaneously exploding while you are having a sly ciggy while filling it up with BP Ultimate Unleaded at the local servo).
No, it’s the humble wire coat hanger. Invented in 1869 by old Alby Parkhouse, a loyal employee of the Timberlake Wire and Novelty Company and never bettered, the coat hanger has a million uses in an around and on your car. Lost your key or trying to break into a random car? The wire coat hanger is the answer. But, of course, it’s main purpose in life is as a replacement car radio aerial. There are two schools of thought on this. One is you straighten the hanger and just stick it down the hole where the aerial was. My experience has been that you get much better reception (including on your portable tele on the passenger’s seat) if you only straighten the hook and shove that bit down. It’s also much more aesthetically pleasing to have the triangle sticking out of the bonnet than a stick of wire. Some car artistes have shaped theirs into representations of the Opera House, a map of mainland Australia, a Great White and a rude thumb gesture.
Now while you may be chortling at my old-fashioned preference for things mechanical let me just bring you up to date with the latest exclusive from Britain’s Which? Magazine. They have a shed-load of money to do real investigations including buying shed-loads of cars to test. Under the very racy (for them) headline “We hacked a Ford Focus and a VW Polo”, journalist Andrew Laughlin tells us how Which went out and bought two brand new autos to see if they were protected against hacking. Bad news: they’re not. The problems are obvious. Apart from putting naughty pics on your infotainment system screen, disabling the traction control, extracting any personal data you have on the system, hacking the collision warning system and unlocking the car, the news is not great for self-driving autos given all the commies just waiting to commit atrocities using your Tesla.
And in other bad news for the company that is offering rideshares to put your own evil car-hacking satellite or granny’s remains in space for a bit over a mill, quality gurus JD Power report that Tesla ranked last in their influential study. But it gets better. “The results were “unofficial” because Tesla didn’t allow JD Power to interview owners in 15 states, so the research firm interviewed owners in 35 other states.
Showing you the power of this paper and its sensational online multi-media platform, our very own subeditor to the stars, Mark Southcott, is the first Australian to order the Supercar Capsules or big glass box from UAE-based Italian consultancy firm Group mentioned here last week. Mark has decided it’s time to showcase his 1979 Mini Moke bought new from Larke Hoskins with just 380,000km on the clock (or as Mark says: just run in) in an Italian/Arabian glass box outside his lovely fibro semi at Thirroul on NSW’s south coast. For years Mark, the only playboy of the southern world, has been spied by society spivs frequenting the coal coast’s version of Jimmy’z (Monte-Carlo’s temple of clubbing), the Thirroul Railway Stationers & Newsagency in Lawrence Hargrave Drive, who are big supporters of this paper’s right to know campaign (when government keeps the truth from you, what are they covering up?). Will he still cast the same shadow with the Moke in a box?
Luckily we have the answer for him and you with our most bitter competitor in tarmac rallying, Adelaide’s answer to Henry the eighth, Alvin Chua selling his striking Gulf liveried Beemer E30. Readers and friends this is the identical (but better looking) car to the world famous Weekend Australian Rally Team’s 1989 BMW which will be competing in Classic Adelaide in a few months if the place is open. My guess is you will steal this for around $30k.
Talking of which, what about these prices at this week’s RM Sotheby’s online auction. Thirty- eight desperate punters bid a 1955 Austin A40 featuring an opening hood and trunk, spare tyre, working horn, and battery-powered lights up to $15k. Oh I forgot to mention this was a pedal-power auction where 53 museum-quality pedal-powered vehicles, including cars, trucks, boats and airplanes dating from 1927 to 1977, brought over $200k. My fav was the 1964 Ford Mustang for $5k but the little feet people loved the 1941 Lincoln- Zephyr ($12k) and the 1968 Skipper Run-A-bout. When the Murray-Ohio Manufacturing Company introduced its pedal boat in 1968, it was a brand-new concept. The boat came in three models: the Jolly Roger, Dolphin Gulf Stream, and Skipper Run-A-Bout with a battery-operated outboard motor, chrome-plated rails and a pennant.
Murray-Ohio was a serious company. Their Lawrenceburg plant was the largest bicycle, pedal car and electric fan (nice portfolio there) factory in the world. Their final burst of greatness came in 1965 with the launch of the Murray Wildcat, a small-tyred, banana-seated wheelie bike.